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South Allegheny festival unites family musicians

Michael DiVittorio
| Friday, Sept. 5, 2014, 12:56 a.m.
Jared Brysh, 14, of Glassport and his grandfather Robert Brysh, 70, of McKeesport prepare for the South Allegheny Marching Band's 45th annual band festival on Saturday.
Jared Brysh, 14, of Glassport and his grandfather Robert Brysh, 70, of McKeesport prepare for the South Allegheny Marching Band's 45th annual band festival on Saturday.

Music is bringing a family together for the South Allegheny Marching Band's 45th annual band festival on Saturday.

Robert Brysh, 70, of McKeesport and his grandson Jared Brysh, 14, of Glassport will march and perform together for the first time.

“It's a wonderful thing,” Robert Brysh said. “I never thought something like that would happen. It's very nice.”

“It feels fantastic,” Jared said. “I've never really played with him before. A few times he tried to give me a lesson here or there, but there's not really much time to do anything with soccer and everything,. Doing this is a huge thing. It's amazing.”

“He's a busy boy and I'm a busy man,” Robert Brysh said. “He has his own itinerary and I have mine. If he needs to know anything and I can help him, I will.”

Robert Brysh, a 1961 Glassport High School graduate, has been playing the trombone since he was 12. He attended the Naval School of Music, reached the rank of third-class musician and played in the Commander in Chief U.S. Pacific Fleet Band at Pearl Harbor during the 1960s. He has played in many local bands, including the Glassport Sons of Italy band, and is a member of the Jeannette Community Band.

Jared began playing the trumpet about five years ago during an elementary school music class.

He said students were asked to try out a bunch of instruments, and the trumpet “was the only instrument that I could make a noise out of.”

He's a freshman at South Allegheny High School. This is his first year participating in the marching band.

Robert Brysh is playing in the alumni marching band. Grandfather and grandson will come together to perform the national anthem, South Allegheny's alma mater, and pieces such as “The Horse,” “Thunder and Lightening,” “We're an American Band” and “Land of 1,000 Dances.”

Robert Brysh said the alumni band consists mostly of graduates from the 1980s, '90s and earlier. He said he's likely the oldest member of the group.

“I've been meeting a lot of nice people,” he said. “It's always nice to meet more musicians, young and old.”

Musicality skipped a generation of the family. Jeffrey Brysh, Robert's son and Jared's father, said he never connected with his dad on a musical level. He is happy to see Jared bond with Robert.

“Jared was always into sports,” Jeffrey Brysh said. “I thought he was going to quit band, but it's very enjoyable to him. I never played any instruments, and this music has brought my father and my son close together. It bridged the gap. He's a terrific grandfather and I'm very proud of both of them.

“I think they have a lot in common with the music and it has made their relationship stronger. Music is my father's life, and that's one thing I can never share with my dad.”

Other participating bands are from Frazier, Hempfield Area, Mt. Lebanon and South Park.

The alumni band, 125-plus members strong, includes musicians from as far away as North Carolina and has representatives from every graduating class dating back to 1971. It will perform under the direction of retired South Allegheny band directors William Riffle and John Fisher.

More information is available online at

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1965, or

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